Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Shikshavalli, Chapter One: “Hari OM. Be peace to us Mitra. Be peace to us Varuna. Be peace to us Aryaman. Be peace to us Indra and Brihaspati. May far-striding Vishnu be peace to us. Adoration to the Eternal. Adoration to thee, O Vayu. Thou, thou art the visible Eternal and as the visible Eternal I will declare thee. I will declare Righteousness! I will declare Truth! May that protect me! May that protect the speaker! Yea, may it protect me! May it protect the speaker! Om! Peace! Peace! Peace!”
The Shikshavalli is the first section of the Taittiriya Upanishad and as its name indicates, it is for students. The first chapter is a peace invocation, but it is not simply a formal prayer but also a teaching in its own right. Each of the names invoked represents a different aspect of the divine creation and a power at work in the human being. They are asked to cooperate, rather than act as obstacles to the spiritual development.
Sri M. P. Pandit explains the deeper significance: “Thus Mitra is the God who promotes harmony (as much among the different parts of man’s being as between him and others — men and gods), Varuna the God of Purity and Vastness, the keeper of the Law of Truth, Aryaman a leading Personality manifesting the Consciousness-Force of the Sun-God who symbolises the Supreme Truth, Brihaspati the Deity presiding over the Potent Word, the Power of Creative Speech, Indra the lord of the Divine Mind, Vishnu the All-pervader — striding across with his celebrated three steps –. sustaining the Creation, and Vayu the God of Life-force which palpably pervades and enlivens all existence.”
Right from the start, the Upanishad begins to prepare the student’s mind for the omnipresent reality. Vayu is invoked as the visible Eternal. The Eternal is not separate from and isolated from the world of creation, but is indeed One with the creation while concurrently transcending all the forms, forces names and characteristics that one can associate with the creation.
The Taittiriya Upanishad relies heavily on the use of the mantric force of sound, and the invocation and repetition of “Peace, Peace, Peace” is helpful to create the proper concentrated and calm status of mind needed for any serious effort to develop consciousness.